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  1. #1
    Les Paul Forum Member
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    50's Wiring Question

    Hello,

    I recently purchased a Mark Knopfler VOS Les Paul. This is my first guitar with 50's wiring.

    It's a pretty distorted sound from 10-8.5, then gets VERY clean around 8. By 4 or 5, it is very very quiet, almost as if the amp is on its lowest volume setting.

    Is this normal tapering for 50's wiring?

    Thanks!

  2. #2

    Re: 50's Wiring Question

    I dont think its the wiring. I think its the taper of the potentiometer. 50s wiring has more to do with the tone control and how much the highs are not rolled out.

  3. #3
    Les Paul Forum Member Kris Ford's Avatar
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    Re: 50's Wiring Question

    Though somewhat of what you describe IS 50's wiring, to an extent..as the last 2 notches (9 and 10) can act like a built in overdrive..turn up to 10 for leads..down to 6-8 for cleaner stuff...and it will be somewhat brighter.

    At least that's how it works with my 50's wired Gibsons through a Marshall.
     photo norlin_logo.jpg

  4. #4
    Les Paul Forum Member
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    Re: 50's Wiring Question

    It depends how you have your amp set, if you've got it dimed the compression of the amp will smooth out the perceived differences in volume a bit also the natural way we perceive volume does this as well. If your playing at low volume then it exaggerates the difference in perceived volume. How you have the tone set and how you use the tone control when you roll down the volume has a big impact on the volume too and it doesn't really work the way you'd expect it to if your used to more modern guitars. I find that if i roll down the volume then rolling down the tone actually thins out the sound of the guitar somewhat. This will vary depending on what cable your using and what pedals your using as it will alter the capacitance of your cabling and the impedance of the signal going to your amp (if your running buffered pedals)!

    I'm a pretty minimalist kind of guy and run guitar-wah-amp when i can get away with it (amp is a JTM45RI on 10 when i can get away with it) The thing your describing for me is great as it gives a bigger range of tones because when I've got the guitar volume on 2 i get a great clean tone and it gets grittier as I push the volume up, however if i'm playing at home at a pretty quiet volume rolling the volume down at all really results in the amp being quieter than the guitar is acoustically which kind of sounds like what your describing.

    TL;DR - Play louder, it's always better!

  5. #5

    Re: 50's Wiring Question

    Quote Originally Posted by JR.Deluxe View Post
    I dont think its the wiring. I think its the taper of the potentiometer. 50s wiring has more to do with the tone control and how much the highs are not rolled out.
    Not exactly; 50's wiring effects both the volume and tone at the output jack. The "weird taper" is not the actual taper of the volume pot itself, but a byproduct of how the pickup, volume & tone control interact when set to something other than full-up. IOW, the apparent taper is different in different situations. See below.

    Quote Originally Posted by gio View Post
    ... It's a pretty distorted sound from 10-8.5, then gets VERY clean around 8. By 4 or 5, it is very very quiet, almost as if the amp is on its lowest volume setting.

    Is this normal tapering for 50's wiring? ...
    Yes, normal.

    Try this: Turn your guitar volume at max. Turn the tone down to 5-7. Now turn the volume down to 5-7. You will hear the volume drop dramatically with a short turn of the volume pot, and the guitar will actually get brighter.

    To use this: Imagine a non-master volume Marshall. Crank the amp, max your guitar volume, roll back the guitar tone control to get a throaty, distorted lead/solo sound. If you leave the tone control there, you can now transition to a cleaner/brighter rhythm sound with a fairly small twist of the guitar volume control. And your lead tone, already smoothed to avoid treble harshness is only a short twist up on the volume knob.

    What do I mean by the last paragraph? 50's wiring works beautifully when you've got a cranked amp that's already distorting, and more guitar volume/boost pedal/harder playing just yields more distortion/compression of the amp's sound. As Shakey points out, when you're slamming the amp this way, more input signal ≠ more volume, only more distortion. Now when you roll that volume control back a little, input signal to the amp drops dramatically (and gets brighter), but this just causes the amp to drop out of heavy distortion/compression. If you set the amp volume right, loudness in the room doesn't drop (much if at all), the amp just cleans up.

    If you keep the guitar tone at maximum, the volume drop/brightness increase is nowhere near as dramatic. I liked the effect so much, I rewired my Tele to "50's wiring" even though no 50's Tele was actually wired this way.

    See/Hear how this happens in the video below:

    Last edited by B Ingram; 04-07-17 at 05:24 AM.

  6. #6
    Les Paul Forum Member sapi's Avatar
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    Re: 50's Wiring Question

    Yup bro even my tele is '50's wired! Love it!
    ~ Shanti ~

    "Without the buzz and the feel, we can go to sleep..."

  7. #7
    Les Paul Forum Member
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    Re: 50's Wiring Question

    Thanks all that have contributed. I usually run my guitar straight into an overdriven, NMV amp. It's just new to me as all my Gibsons have modern wiring. I do love the effect and the variety of tones available, just was a bit surprised at the volume change. I am going to keep playing around with it (it's fun!)

    Thank you all again.

  8. #8
    Les Paul Forum Member Don's Avatar
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    Re: 50's Wiring Question

    Quote Originally Posted by B Ingram View Post
    I liked the effect so much, I rewired my Tele to "50's wiring" even though no 50's Tele was actually wired this way.
    I even wired my Strat that way!

  9. #9

    Re: 50's Wiring Question

    Interesting. My 54 jr wiring is stock i think and i havent noticed this kind of behaviour. The taper of the controls are fairly normal, just the guitar doesnt lose brightness as you roll the volume down. I havent noticed this wide range of differences you speak of.

  10. #10

    Re: 50's Wiring Question

    Quote Originally Posted by JR.Deluxe View Post
    Interesting. My 54 jr wiring is stock i think and i havent noticed this kind of behaviour. The taper of the controls are fairly normal, just the guitar doesnt lose brightness as you roll the volume down. I havent noticed this wide range of differences you speak of.
    It only happens if you already have the tone control rolled back. If you start with full volume and tone control rolled back by about half, you'll get a big volume drop between 10 & 8 on the volume control.

  11. #11
    Les Paul Forum Member Tarcisioo's Avatar
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    Re: 50's Wiring Question

    I have a different behaviour with my Les Paul. I use all CTS audio pots, Russian PIO caps and 50s wiring, but I can't get something like the woman tone. Almost no difference from 10 - 5, a little difference from 5 - 2 and almost no sound from 2 - 0. If I crank my amp (15w, wich is loud enough I guess) the volume difference from 10 to 0 gets a little better, but nothing like woman tone. I got myself another Les Paul this year, and had a pcb board, wich means modern wiring, and I got a damn good woman tone with it.

    I already checked the wiring a thousand times to see if somethings missing, already changed pots, but I can't get a good woman tone, when I set the tone at 0, it just takes the volume away. Maybe I need more compression? But my modern guitar sounded pretty good...

  12. #12
    Les Paul Forum Member latestarter's Avatar
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    Re: 50's Wiring Question

    2014 Les Paul Custom aged - with not 50s wiring. Go Gibson.

    Otherwise known as Grant.

  13. #13
    Les Paul Forum Member sonar's Avatar
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    Re: 50's Wiring Question

    You can also get close to what B. Ingram describes at lower volumes with 50's wiring, the right overdrive pedal into a non master volume amp. A Barber Direct Drive and Vibro Champ clone (with 10" alnico) achieves this for me. One of my favorite, lazy Sunday afternoon tones.

    50's wiring isn't for everybody and sometimes it isn't the best choice for a specific guitar. I've noticed some of the stock, modern era Les Pauls with brighter pickups do better with modern wiring.

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